With the mutant strain of coronavirus detected in six UK-returned persons in the country on Tuesday, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), which was among the worst affected civic bodies due to the pandemic, has pulled up it socks to check the spread of the viral infection by adopting a strategy of not discharging any such patient – one who tests positive for the new strain – from the hospital until they test negative for two consecutive days.
The civic body is yet to receive a confirmation on a sample sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for the mutant strain, while another sample was sent on Tuesday. “The PMC has isolated two persons who returned from the UK and have tested positive for Covid-19. The sample of one patient was sent to the NIV for confirmation on the mutated strain of coronavirus on December 26, while the sample of the second patient was sent today,” said a civic health officer.
Assistant Medical Officer Sanjeev Waware clarified that the sample confirmed by the NIV for the mutant strain on Tuesday is not from the city. “It takes five days for confirming the mutant strain and there has been no communication from the NIV to the PMC on the sent sample. The NIV recieves samples from various parts of the country,” he said.
The PMC is gearing up for tackling the situation. Waware said, “The PMC has set up a floor at Naidu hospital for the treatment of patients with the mutant strain of coronavirus.”
Assistant Medical Officer Vaishali Jadhav said that the civic health department has done the contact tracing of the two Covid-19 patients who have returned from the UK in the city. “The patients have been in isolation since their arrival. Three family members of the first UK-returned patient have been kept in home isolation and their samples have been collected for testing,” she said, adding that the samples of two family members of the second UK-returned patient will also be collected for testing.
As per the new directives, a survey is being undertaken by the PMC of people that have arrived in the city from the UK after November 25. RT-PCR tests of all those who have arrived from the UK are being done, except for those who came 28 days ago. Those testing positive for Covid-19 are further being tested for the mutant strain that was found in the UK and their samples are being sent to the NIV for genome sequencing.
Those testing negative for Covid-19 will be monitored for 28 days from their arrival in the city. The close contacts of those testing positive will be kept in institutional quarantine and their RT-PCR tests will be done any time between day 5 and 10 from the day of contact with the patient. The PMC will also be keeping the UK-returned Covid patients and their close contacts in a separate facility, so that they do not come in contact with other quarantined persons.
“Those testing positive for the mutant strain of coronavirus will have to undertake RT-PCR tests on day 14 of quarantine before being discharged. If the patient tests positive again, then discharge will not be given unless the patient tests negative twice in a gap of 24 hours,” said Jadhav.
Earlier, the PMC had issued directives for those returning from European and Middle East countries to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine in designated city hotels for a week. The testing of those who returned from European and Middle East countries has been made mandatory during their institutional quarantine period. If they test negative, they are sent for home isolation for a week; if tested positive, they are admitted to Naidu hospital.
The civic administration has also asked all those who have returned from European countries and the Middle East after November 25 to contact the PMC.
Meanwhile, the PMC has approached city police to trace 119 persons who returned from the UK but are not traceable. “We have approached city police to help us trace the persons who returned from the UK,” said a civic official.
A senior officer from Pune Police confirmed the development. “We have received communication from the PMC seeking assistance in tracing over a 100 such UK-returnees. A team has been assigned for the task.”
Teams of personnel from police jurisdictions across the city have been part of the contact tracing effort of the health machinery since the beginning of the pandemic.
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